Menu Close

Kristell Ink Rafflecopter and giveaway

My publisher, Kristell Ink, are offering a Rafflecopter giveaway from 13th to 20th April~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prizes include a £10 Amazon giftcard and an eBook of your choice.

You can also read about it on Kristell Ink’s Facebook page here: Kristell Ink

In addition, my fellow author Mr Robert Harkess is offering an exclusive giveaway: the eBook of his acclaimed novel Amunet will be free on Amazon from Friday to Monday inclusive. Click on the link below… 

Gemmell Awards open for voting

Voting for the 2017 Gemmell Awards has begun; the link is here

My publisher, Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books, is fielding a strong list of authors and illustrators for the various awards:

Legend Award
The Sky Slayer, by Joel Cornah
The Summer Goddess, by Joanne Hall
The High King’s Vengeance, by Steven Poore

Ravenheart Award
Jason Deem, for The Summer Goddess
Evelinn Enoksen*, for The Sky Slayer
Jorge Torres, for The High King’s Vengeance

You can find out more about the authors and illustrators on the Kristell Ink web-site, where there are more links to their books!

*Evelinn is the illustrator to the new edition of Children of the Shaman

Guest Post: Sarah Ash

Treasuring the Initial Image – Sarah Ash guest blogs for Melanie Ifield

I’m one of those writers that squirrels ideas away like a winter hoard of nuts and berries. Or maybe my type of writer is more like a vineyard owner, bottling the new vintage and trusting that in a year or more, it’ll mature and be ready for drinking. This kind of deferred gratification (or setting ideas aside to mature at the back of the mind) first came from necessity. I started writing again when I was a busy mum with two lively (though very rewarding!) sons and a return to teaching, so anything that occurred to me had to be scribbled down in a notebook or parked in an ideas file and saved for later. But, over the years, as the sons have grown up and gone on to make their own way in the world, I look back and see that the ‘saving an idea for later’ process is one that has stood me in good stead…

Read the rest at Guest Post: Sarah Ash

Review of The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice by Sarah Ash

The Flood Dragon's Sacrifice (Tide Dragons, #1)The Flood Dragon’s Sacrifice by Sarah Ash

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. Set in mediaeval Japan, it tells the story of rival clans whose blood feud has endured for many years, and the fate of their sons and daughters who have to choose between family loyalty with its rigid burdens of honour, or loyalty to friends and lovers – and deeper magical forces.
The dragons of the title, Ebb and Flood, are bound to serve the Emperor of Cipangu by two precious pearls, the Tide Jewels.
The jewels underpin the power of the Emperor, so when renegade clansmen steal the jewels for their own ends, the race is on to find them before the Emperor learns of their loss, bringing disgrace and death to their guardians.
Lively and readable, the story cracks along at a swift pace. The characters are likeable and believable and there is a real sense of jeopardy that keeps one turning the page. The mystery behind the theft of the jewels keeps the reader guessing.
Human characters like the protagonist Kai – the lame monk who is also a nobleman – mingle with fox-spirits or Kitsune, deities, and even a terrifying fire-demon or shikigami.
The story presents a web of complex loyalties, between friends, lovers and rival clans, with honour and the fear of disgrace an important force. No-one is perfect, not even the gods. When the true villain is revealed at the end, it brings a satisfying denouement.

View all my reviews

Not Nanowrimo…

We are on course for the new edition of Children of the Shaman to come out with Kristell Ink in January 2017.

It’s going to have illustrations, about which I’m incredibly excited. It’s  like all my dreams coming true at once! The artwork, which includes a map, is by the talented Evelinn Enoksen, and I’m very happy with the results.

I’ve been flat out editing Malarat, my third book and the one I self-published. When I was selling it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc, it was 240,000 words long.

That’s long.

Most regular novels are 140,000 if that. A behemoth of a book at 240k, it needed to lose some weight, not unlike its author.

So I got out the “blue pencil” and cut it savagely (ow) and got it down to 186,000 words.

All the other books – Children of the Shaman, The Glass Mountain and the new kid on the block, Winterbloom, are shorter. If you can believe it, removing the word “that” got rid of a lot of surplus. Not to mention the old favourites like “at that moment” and “then”.

I am also working on a sequel. I think. I was going to do Nanowrimo but then I was too busy finishing the edit on Malarat (that’s my excuse anyway) and when it came to the crunch, I paused.

Oh fatal pause.

Because I would love to write something else set in the real world, like Winterbloom. There are two possible projects – Tunguska, which could be very short, and another less crystallised one, possibly called The White Rose.

Given all the rose-related stuff that pops up in Winterbloom, it would obviously be a follow-up to that. I have tried a few times to write something about Richard III, who I’ve been interested in since at least 1973. The problem with that idea is there are already some exceptionally good novels about Richard III, historical and fantasy, and since the recent surge of interest in the king there have been a lot of self-published novels as well.

So whenever I’ve started to write about Richard III, it doesn’t work. I feel as if I’m just rewriting other books I’ve read. And unfortunately one idea I had mulled over for years in a very vague way kind of got done by someone else – it was a self-published book but there is no way I could cover the same ground.

And I have a real problem. It’s called 15th century England. A Catholic country, before the Reformation, and imaginatively a very long distance away. I’ve used 15th century tropes in Malarat (a bit) and it made me aware that if you’re going to be realistic to any degree, it’s a tight squeeze.

Writers have dealt with this in a number of ways. Phillipa Gregory concentrates on the women characters – Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville and Margaret Beaufort. Freda Warrington has sympathetic female narrators and creates an alternative history version of 15th century England. John Crowley invented an alternative pagan version where Richard was a Mithraist and Christianity was a persecuted minority sect. I haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire (yet) but George R.R. Martin completely reworked the Wars of the Roses.

And that is to name but a few.

My predicament is rather like that described in this clerihew:

Cecil B. De Mille

Much against his will

Was persuaded to keep Moses

Out of the Wars of the Roses.

(DeMille and Hayne 1960: 106)

Or to put it another way – if I wrote a book about the shamans and introduced Richard III, or wrote a book about Richard III and crash-landed the shamans in it – that would be ludicrous, wouldn’t it.

Wouldn’t it?

The Living and the Dead soundtrack

I’ve just discovered that you can purchase the album and/or download it from the composers’ web-site here: the insects

They’ve composed the incidental music to several series, including Death comes to Pemberley, as well as some documentaries.

I thought the soundtrack to The Living and the Dead was an important part of the drama series and its eerie atmosphere. They made an imaginative use of traditional music and folk songs as part of the background.

Grimbold Books Patreon begins

(Introduction by Sammy H.K. Smith)
Hi there, Patreons
First off, a massive thank you for supporting us. It’s difficult for me to put into words what it means to all of us here at Grimbold Books without coming across as sickly and over-the-top, but we are hugely grateful for your help. Please be assured that your patronage will help us market some incredible pieces of work and showcase talented authors.

The rise of social media and the way that technology now connects the world means that the possibilities are endless for small companies like ours.

I won’t echo too much of our Patreon plea here, but publishing is not a cheap business. We are committed to quality publications and with the uncertainty in the future of the UK at the moment, the blips in the financial market causing havoc, and the rising costs left, right and centre, we are tackling obstacles all over the place. Fear not – we’re not going anywhere, and instead we will focus our development and expansion at a slower rate. Money pledged on Patreon will undoubtedly help us ensure that we continue to bring you amazing books from new and talented authors.

2016 has been an amazing year, and we’re only just over halfway through! Two of our novels have been nominated and made the longlist for the Gemmell awards, and we have two Grimbold authors and one of our artists nominated on the shortlists for the British Fantasy Awards!

When we started our small company in 2013, I could only dream that we would be as successful as we currently are, and I can’t wait to bring you the rest of our catalogue this year.

I look forward to seeing and meeting you all face-to-face at Bristol Con later this year, but if you happen to see our trade tables at Gloucester Comic Con, Fantasy Con by the Sea, and other smaller, local conventions, then please do come and say hello.

Speak soon, and if you have any questions – fire away!

– Sammy
Coming up this month on Patreon, exclusive extras for our donors will include;

  • Behind the scenes look at our newest title, Autonomy (this will go up later today)
  • An exclusive, never before seen short story by Joanne Hall
  • Special previews of The Summer Goddess, The High King’s
    , and The Sky Slayer
  • An art show by Evelinn Enosken, who has designed a number of
    our covers and is just all round brilliant.
  • An interview with Karen Miller, bestselling author of The
    Innocent Mage, The Falcone Throne, and Empress!
  • And, of course, a weekly comic strip starring Grim and Bold!

Children of the Shaman cover reveal



Here is the new cover art for Children of the Shaman, to be reissued later this year by Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books.

The art and cover design are by award-winning illustrator Daniele Serra.

Link here to an article from SFFWorld by Shellie Horst and an interview with me about the new edition.

For more about Grimbold Books and to support their Patreon campaign, with many rewards, go here.

Or read my recent post!

Grimbold does Patreon

Not long ago, I mentioned I had signed up with Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books.

Grimbold has just launched an exciting new campaign on Patreon, offering exclusive benefits to subscribers.

What is Patreon?

the world’s largest crowdfunding site for artists and creators”

For just $2 a month or more, you will obtain access to exclusive bonus content.

The Grimbold Newsletter

This will feature the latest news from Grimbold, announcements before anyone else gets to see them, and special write-ups about our latest books.

You’ll be given behind the scenes words from our authors on what inspired their writing.

Also, you get the Grim and Bold comic strip! Brand new episodes every Friday from our two trouble-making cats and their love-hate relationship.

According to how much you pledge, you will receive more rewards. For instance, if you pledge $10 or more a month, you will receive one free ebook a month!

And why should I support Grimbold, you ask?

Here’s why (apart from the exclusive content!) from the Goals section:

Patrons will get to submit their flash fiction stories first and we will give you feedback on your story.

$300 a month would help us cover our basic running costs, give us some breathing room, and help us to focus on the important parts of creating more brilliant books, and really getting the best out of our operation. Your pledges will be spent on marketing, cover art and costs such as ISBNs and website hosting.

Since opening their Patreon page, Grimbold have already raised $110 of the $300 goal.

Rewards will start on August 1st, and here are some of the things you can look forward to:

Steven Poore, author of The Heir to the North, and Joanne Hall, author of Spark and Carousel, will be releasing new short stories as Patreon exclusives.

Jessica Rydill (me) will be sharing her essay on avoiding cliches in world building.

And towards the end of August, there will be some exclusive art from Evelinn Enoksen, artist, illustrator, writer and book designer.

To read more and to view the amazing video featuring Joel Cornah, Sammy Smith and a host of Grimbold authors…and some cartoon kitties…why not go straight to

Remember – rewards go live from August 1!

(And now you can see why I didn’t pursue a profitable career in advertising).

(Main image courtesy of Joel and Joshua Cornah)

Updates to my web-site

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the appearance of both my blogs, this one and the other one that lives at Living in the Maniototo.

This is because Kristell Ink will be publishing my fourth novel, Winterbloom, and republishing my first three books: Children of the Shaman, The Glass Mountain, and Malarat.

As a result, I’ve taken down the self-published editions of my books and am trying not to explode with excitement.

The books are being reissued with new cover art commissioned by the publisher. There will be a cover reveal soon for the first one (Children of the Shaman). Of which more anon.

I’m also working on my fifth book, with the working title Tunguska, which has something to do with the airburst meteor event over the Siberian Taiga in 1908.

Or was it caused by shamans fighting?

Older Posts
%d bloggers like this: